Writing is hard. First, you have to come up with a brilliant idea worth sharing with the world. Then, you have to get something down on paper that makes a bit of sense to read. Finally, and most importantly, you have to edit.
Editing can be a real pain. You have to make sure everything is spelled right, all your punctuation is done properly, and nothing redundant is written. Sure, there’s spell check and other ways of letting your computer fix things for you, but they don’t always catch problems because sometimes things don’t look like a problem. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed peak instead of peek, or some other minor mistake, only to look at my writing later in horror after several people have read my story.
The best way I found to trudge through the editing process is to print out what I’m working on and stick to one part of my story and one aspect of editing at a time. It keeps me focused so I don’t miss as much in the long run.
I start with grammar and spelling mistakes, highlighting them as I read. Did I put a comma where it didn’t need to go? Did I misspell something? Did I mix up your and you’re again? Even the best writers aren’t above making a simple mistake in the heat of a writing frenzy when an idea hits and fingers are smashing keys in a flurry of storytelling.
Next, I check for continuity and redundancy. Do a character’s eyes change from blue to green? Does someone laugh and say, “Haha,” at the same time? Is Fitz from the first chapter now called Stan in the second?
Then, I look for things that need explaining or should go elsewhere in the story. Why did Faolan punch Elek? Who on earth is Fitz? Why are Fia and Brand on a date when they just split up in the last chapter? These are common issues I have since I don’t plot and all my writing is done out of order.
Finally, I read through everything one last time in case I missed something. And I always miss something. Once that’s done, I go through and fix everything before starting the whole process over again. Because editing isn’t done in one go. It takes a few tries, and sometimes a second person entirely, to achieve a polished manuscript ready to share with the world.
Editing is an exhausting process, but it’s worth it. Don’t let an amazing story go overlooked by agents and readers because you sent out a sloppy draft. Give your best and let your words shine.